|Parsnips (photo link with recipe)|
It has always been a matter of surprise, that the parsnip is so little appreciated as a crop for feeding dairy stock. When fed to cows, it improves the quality of the milk, it produces a richer cream and a finer flavored butter than any other root, and all animals are very fond of it. It is also one of the best roots to feed to fattening stock. Moreover, it has the advantage of being perfectly hardy, and can be left in the ground without injury over winter, if anything prevents harvesting in November; or a part of the crop can be harvested in the fall, and the rest left through the winter to be dug in April, just when it is most wanted for cows and for ewes with lambs by their sides.
With these important advantages, it must certainly be regarded as one of the best on the list of root-crops for the dairy farm, and yet it is but little cultivated. This is owning, perhaps, in part o the fact that the seed must be fresh and new, and in part to the difficulty of pulling, the long tap root adhering with great tenacity to the soil. The former difficulty can be readied by raising the seed on the farm itself, the latter by running a subsoil plough under the rows, one at a time, as they are gathered, thus loosening the hold of the roots upon the ground. It is easy to raise them at the rate of from six to eight hundred bushels to the acre, and they are commonly worth about fifty cents per bushel in the market.
The parsnip requires a soil free from rocks,—a free, rich, mellow loam; and on such soil, the cost per acre is but little greater than that for the cultivation of ruta bagas. It is desirable to plough the ground in ridges in the fall, and to apply old and well-rotted manure, at the rate of thirty or forty horse cart-loads to the acre in spring, to be ploughed under. The seed is to be sown—as early in spring as it is possible to plough and work the land—in drills about two feet apart, to give space to go through with the cultivator or the horse-hoe.
The seed may be sown by a machine at the rate of four or five pounds to the acre. It is a good plan to put in a few radish seeds to mark the drills and to guide the cultivator before the plants are sufficiently grown in early spring. When two inches high, or so, the plants must be carefully thinned and weeded. They may stand about three inches apart in the drills. If the weeds are completely kept down till the plants get a good size, the long leaves will shade the ground, and the work will be less.
In harvesting, select a few of the best roots to set out in April for seed, which will ripen in July. The Long Smooth or Hollow Crown is the best variety. Use labor-saving implements as much as possible,m and the cost per acre need not exceed seventy dollars.
[Thomas’s Old Farmer's Almanac]
|Harvesting Parsnips (photo link)|
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